AoE 4 needs better visuals to increase its playerbase

I am creating this post because I want to remind the devs that the visuals of AoE 4 are extremely important when it comes to attracting and keeping players. If you have followed the game since the first trailer that showed the game itself, you will remember that one of the most discussed points was the visuals of the game. This, of course, also had something to do with the limited amount of information we had at that point. Not knowing the exact game mechanics, for example, but having seen the visuals of the game obviously meant that people were going to comment on what they had information on: the visuals. However, even after the release of the game, many players have brought up different aspects of the visuals, such as:

The devs need to consider that the first thing every potential player will encounter are the visuals, and there is no way around that. Therefore, it’s important for the growth of the game that the visuals leave a great first impression on these players.

I want to share some of my problems with AoE 4’s visuals. I grouped these into two categories: “visual confusion” and “visual immersion”.

Visual confusion

  1. Enemy buildings and units don’t light up when attacking you. This means for me that, often times, especially in the later stages of the game, when I’m being attacked by a building or unit, I don’t know from where.

  2. I find golden foundations extremely difficult to see and identify and would prefer these to be replaced with wooden and stone foundations.

Visual immersion

  1. Confetti siege death animations. Do I need to say more?

  1. Siege units float when interacting with hills and they also lack siege crews.

  2. Ranged units don’t throw torches when attacking buildings.

  3. There seems to be no melee animation for certain unit interactions, such as a scout attacking a wolf. Furthermore, as you can see, shooting the wolf will result in it bleeding wood, and smoke will appear. This effect is, for some reason, used for every projectile ↔ target interaction.


  1. Rough animation transitions

This happens with multiple unit interactions. To stay with the scout ↔ wolf example, what I mean by that is that when a wolf attacks a scout, the wolf attack animation will be played, followed by the wolf standing still for one second, followed by the wolf attack animation being played again. This looks quite weird, and it’s something that I believe players need to see to realize its weirdness, but I can’t manage to upload a video.


Yeah, archers sometimes look like they shoot arrows with their legs.

And give as blood. Nobody under 16 is playing aoe4 anyway


I can’t disagree with this enough, but I completely agree with siege weapons in particular. The destruction animations should be improved and the most of them that “float” on angled terrain shouldn’t.


This is a balance thing though, not a visual one. Ranged units are not supposed to be good against buildings.

Some attack animations may seem slow, but it’s because the animations in this game actually line up with the attack speed. So the animations actually convey when damage occurs. In AoE2 for example they do not do this and animations are often totally out of sync with damage.

I’m 8 and I am :wink: But for real it does get a little goofy with the animations sometimes


Visual confusion

  1. I’m not sure what you mean here. Do you mean on the map or do you want the buildings to physically light up? In the latter case, I’d be against that, because I think a better solution is to make projectiles more obvious. Currently, most Emplacements look incredibly ugly. Arrowslits are extremely cartoony looking and sounding. Springald sounds decent but has the same issue of every projectile, where it stops right before it “hits” the target, and floats for a few frames. Handcannon has the same issue. And as much as I love the Bombard Emplacement, it too floats for a few frames–can we fix this already?

I will say that I like the regular Cannon emplacement sound and effect. I think they’ve done nicely there, although the actual splashing zone could be bit more visually stimulating. I think this may partially be the issue with the others, as the effect of “hitting” the target with Arrows, Springalds or Handcannons are too mild, so the feedback feels onesided.

I’ve worked on projectiles like this myself, and the way it is implemented in AoE4 feels more like a programmer’s handiwork than actual artists being involved. It screams that they just had someone set the projectile to move from A to B in a linear fashion, with an effect that plays when it hits its target. Some feel a lot more competent than the others (cannon, bombard emplacements), but they still fail at the very last few frames.

  1. I do actually like the yellowy image that shows up before you start building. If anything, I wish it’d be more pronounced than it currently is. I’ve always found it weird that in games that build foundations before your villagers get there. So I do like how it is, but I would like if appeared slightly more brightly.

Visual immersion

  1. Yep.

  2. Yep. This is a weird one because the Editor is clearly capable of making siege units and mongol carts follow the terrain. We even see the recently added Ottoman Bombard doing so. So, to me, it seems more like they just don’t have enough people on this damned game to solve small quirks like that. I call them small but these are things that should’ve been ironed out long, LONG ago.

  3. This is a balance thing, and I wouldn’t want it to change. If anything, I’d change the fire armour system because I think it kills the purpose of damage in a way that makes every unit way too specialized which severely limits depth. If a player wants to make a really weird ranged only siege army, then let them, even if it isn’t ideal. As it stands, these mechanics prevent players from being creative and narrows the game down to extremely repetitive gameplay.

  4. You’re assuming that they’re suppoused to do this in melee combat however. Mechanically, they are meant to shoot at animals, not chase them with daggers. But, you are right in that the arrows they use aren’t fitted for this; arrow animations in general are a travesty in this game, and they have not touched it since the initial complaints of the game’s trailers.

  5. Yea, this is just another result of them not having enough assets in the game. It isn’t just the animations of animals, but of regular units as well (most humanoids using the same animations, horses as well). But, we’re also lacking in actual variety of fauna, of nature assets, of effects, of so many things.


Just want to add that this is coming from the same company that made the Company of Heroes franchise. Emplacements are in fact mostly completely lackluster. CoH3 got complaints from them being too fancy with their effects, how come AoE4 is at the complete opposite side of this, with effects that feel utterly hollow and boring?

Seriously. This is a game. It should be exciting, and this is the total opposite of that. I’ve seen better implementations of this exact thing in gamejams.

People will brush this away, but it is HUGELY important. Delivery of effects are a massive part of creating a whole experience, and they actually butchered it. People will feign being content because this has been the case for two years, but it should be addressed and not ignored like with the hundreds of other issues this company has ignored.


A a i said before, in the latest Survey therebwere many questions about graphic. For example "do you prefer a realistic or stylized graphic? And more questions about the same theme.
So i suppose that they’re are going for something different for the next titles.


At this point, I lost hope and gave up. It’s too late for Aoe4. They havent even fixed the floating units on hills and trebuchet shooting projectile out of the map, and mangonel shots as well as arrows are so ugly to look at. It’s just lazy job overall and unspired design decisions. They also lack the talent to do any better.

Just compare the beauty and smoothness of a trebuchet shot in AoE2 with the second hand work in AoeIV, or a rain of arrows in AoE2 with the goofy animations in AoE4. These details add to the experience and immersion when you play.


It would be nice as an alternative option.

They could offer this as an option so that the current animation is kept by default but lets you change it so that ranged units throw torches as well, but I don’t think they will do that.

It’s not so much about lining up the animation; it’s more about the wolf being idle, which could be changed without disrupting that. What I would like to see is the wolf in this example continuing to move after attacking and then continuing to attack while keeping the same attack speed. In AoE 2, a good example of this is how a lion attacks units. The animation consists of the lion attacking the villager, followed by the lion taking a step back to prepare for the next attack. That way, the animation seems fluid. There are other animations in AoE 2 that don’t work that way, and they therefore seem less natural.

I want the building to light up.

Hello, did you take the survey that was announced recently?

Yes, I did. I also specified that the visuals are important to me.


One word: Readability.

That and focus on esports ruin RTS , those two words are against cool and innovation.


Huh? Are you wanting ranged units to throw torches just visually? So they would throw torches at a way further range than melee units, but their torches would only do 1 damage?

I couldn’t say it better


I don’t get it?

I know arrows in general are a sticking point for some players, I get that. But trebuchets?

the point on trebs i believe, and i do notice that myself as well, is projectile flying in an unnaturally high arc and when it hits you’re almost lucky to even notice a hit due to poor impact animation work, and its really hard to see which direction it came from, thats all before i point out a trebuchet fires about 2 to 3 screen lengths with how the zoom in aoe4 is handled

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I mean, there’s basically no impact animation in AoE 2 either. The projectile passes straight into the wall without much fuss. The only visual recognition is the damage state of the building.

For the arc of the shot, I think a lot of that is the differences in both camera angle and scaling. Not saying people have to be happy about that, but I don’t see the issue with the unit itself.

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Imo that’s something that applies to all units in AoE 4 whose projectile is flying in a noticable arc, whether it’s an archer, a mangonel or a trebuchet.
Somehow, in AoE 2, mangonel and trebuchet projectiles look as if they have more weight compared to their AoE 4 counterparts as their arc isn’t as high as in AoE 4.

Arc and projectile aside I actually like the trebuchet firing animations in AoE 4 one of the visuals that’s decent, and honestly trebs in AoE 4 look just bigger and more impressive then AoE 2.